“Stay True,” By Hua Hsu

Jennifer Szalai at the New York Times:

One of the funny things about adolescence is that the world can seem enormous, brimming with possibility, while at the same time the urgency to define oneself — fastidiously curating likes and dislikes, ruthlessly sorting people according to their musical tastes — can make the world feel extremely small.

In his quietly wrenching memoir, “Stay True,” the New Yorker writer Hua Hsu recalls starting out at Berkeley in the mid-1990s as a watchful teenager who had cultivated a cramped sensibility. “I fixated on the lamest things people did,” he writes, delineating who he was by what he rejected — music by Oasis and Pearl Jam, anything “uncool” or “mainstream.” He identified as straight edge — no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes — less out of punk-rock principle than out of fear: “I couldn’t imagine letting down my inhibitions around people I’d be silently judging the whole time.”

more here.